Retirement home displays resident’s menu art
When the pandemic closed the dining room at Covenant Living at the Samarkand, one resident thought of a way to bring a smile to the staff.
Each day for over a year, Sue Janossy drew a picture on the paper menus she received daily at the Santa Barbara retirement community.
Now, with the dining room open again, staff members are hanging hundreds of Mrs. Janossy’s drawings in the eatery for residents to enjoy.
The idea began small with just a smiling sun, a doodle to brighten up her menu. The next day, she colored in the sun.
Her “menu art” (as she likes to call it) quickly became elaborate. She drew detailed pictures of dogs and other animals shaded intricately with colored pencils.
“I am grateful for the experience of doing daily menu art, as it has helped me to forget about the pandemic temporarily and taken me into the wonderful, fuzzy and colorful world of animals,” Mrs. Janossy told the News-Press.
After a few months, she asked the dining team for pictures of animals to draw. She received photos of their pets via email and recreated the image on her menu.
It was a fun way for her to make a personal connection, something she missed during the pandemic’s restrictions.
She is profoundly deaf, meaning she can’t hear sounds below 95 decibels (approximately the volume of a motorcycle running). She relies on reading lips to communicate — an impossible task with masks.
Sometimes, friends would stand way back, pull down their mask and talk to Mrs. Janossy. But usually, people just wave.
Her art has allowed her to communicate and brush up on her artistic abilities.
As a child, she had many pets, from as small as her one calico rat to the horse she competed with in horse shows. As an adult, she showed English Cocker Spaniels for 25 years.
Throughout the years, she painted horses and dogs and sketched children and pets. She was trained in oil painting and graphite sketching, but colored pencils created a new venture.
The drawings took two hours or so at first as she learned her new medium, but she got faster as the weeks wore on.
Her last drawing is double the size of the original pictures. It features a plethora of animals. The large design took nearly 10 hours to complete.
She had fun challenging herself, and her husband joined along, suggesting animals to draw.
Mr. and Mrs. Janossy don’t have a dog themselves, but Mrs. Janossy often walks her friend’s rescue dog with one eye. That pup is featured in several of her sketches.
Despite the many hours of work Mrs. Janossy dedicated to menu art, she never meant for it to be displayed (or published in a newspaper). But when people asked, she agreed.
“If I can get them to smile when viewing my artwork just like the dining room staff, then I am fine with sharing my menu art on display,” she said.
The staff returned her artwork each day inside the bag of food. Sometimes, they only sent a photo copy, keeping the original for themselves.
Mrs. Janossy enjoyed the days she could tell people were passing around her art or were cherishing an original copy.
Now she is able to eat with her work on display around her, as her neighbors delight in the fun sketches as well.email: email@example.com